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A Preview of the 2010 GCAA National Convention

By Ron Balicki
GCAA Contributor

The bottom line is this, if you are a men's college golf coach -- at any level -- you should attend the annual Golf Coaches Association of America's annual convention.

I can think of a lot of good reasons why you should attend -- and very few reasons why you should not. I mean, this is your organization, your voice that supports the game we all love and strives to make it better.

This year's convention is scheduled Dec. 4-8 and for the second consecutive year will take place in Las Vegas, this time at the Tropicana Hotel. And, from the looks of it, there will be plenty to do, see, hear and talk about.

I've attended ever GCAA Convention and I'll admit, not every one has been riveting, controversial, or filled with key issues relating to the college game.

But many of them have been just that and what I've noticed, especially over the last number of years, what goes in and come out of some of these does, in fact, make a difference.

The convention is a major voice for the coaches and you can bet the voices are heard by those who make the rules, not only within college golf, but with the United States Golf Association.

I've also noticed that within the last few years more and more coaches are voicing their views and opinions and I think that is a good and healthy thing within the coaching community.

To me, there is no better place than the convention to have your voice heard. And, while everyone doesn't always agree with everyone else all the time -- that's life in general -- you can at the least give someone something to think about. It just may be something they had not thought about previously.

Another reason to attend is the simplest of all -- camaraderie with fellow coaches across the country at all levels of coaching. I like to think of the coaching community as family and to me there's is nothing better, or more important, than staying in touch and close to family.

It's a wonderful time for young coaches to meet -- and maybe even learn a thing or two -- the more veteran coaches, and vice versa. It's an ideal opportunity for networking and promoting your program. Who knows, it may even get you into a tournament or two which could give your program an upgraded status.

And maybe most important of all, the convention is a time to recognize and honor those in your own profession who have excelled, whether it be over the past year or over a long coaching career. By your presence at the convention, and the Hall of Fame Awards Dinner, you show your respect for those who have paved the way and helped make being a college golf coach a most important part of any college or university.

There are also wonderful opportunities for learning, whether it be rules of the game, rules of the NCAA and USGA, insight on new or innovative golf-related equipment or items, or insight as to what is going on in the industry.

According to GCAA executive Director Gregg Grost, early registration has been very good and it appears this year's attendance is on pace to break all GCAA records. That would be absolutely fantastic.

Leading into the actual meetings will be a Rules Workshop, which the GCAA has made an annual activity. This will be held Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4-5 with PGA of America rules committee members instructing.

I think every coach should take advantage of this opportunity -- at least once every two or three years -- and, most importantly, pass on what they learned to their players. I still see so many players at tournaments who hurt themselves and their team because they don't know the rules. To me, this is just as an important a responsibility for a coach as teaching the golf swing or preparing for a tournament.

In addition this year, on Dec. 5 and in conjunction with the rules workshop, College Golf Combines will host one of its sessions at Angel Park Golf Club.

In a nutshell, or the condensed version, here's what to expect at this year's convention:

Monday Dec. 6 -- Things get going with the NCAA Compliance Seminar, which is always most insightful, and a guest speaker. The afternoon will include an NCAA Division I breakout session and roundtable discussions for Divisions II, III, NAIA and NJCAA. Also in the afternoon there will be a Pace of Play Forum and a screening for the detection of skin damage. The evening begins with a Hall of Fame reception followed by the Hall of Fame Award Dinner.

Tuesday, Dec. 7 -- The morning begins with the GCAA holding it's general business meeting. This is followed by what could easily be the highlight of the week, a session featuring PGA Golf Hall of Fame member, former major champion and currently renowned television golf announcer Johnny Miller. You can bet he will give everyone his views and won't be holding back any punches. There are more breakout sessions in the afternoon. Late afternoon and early evening features GCAA partners/corporate sponsors exhibits (cocktails and hors d'oeuvres). Not only is this a great time to socialize with fellow coaches, but to also meet and talk to representatives from a wide variety of those in the golf industry. Talk about an ideal time to do some networking, this is it.

Wednesday, Dec. 9 -- The bulk of the day will feature various speakers and ways to help better one's program through product and innovation as well as a USGA rules session.

"Things are really shaping up nicely," Grost said. "All in all, this convention will be the place to be for college golf coaches."

Oh, and if you're looking for still another reason to attend, how about seeing yours truly -- yes, Wrong Ron himself -- be inducted into the GCAA Hall of Fame. Talk about the honor of all honors. I can't come close to explaining what this means to me.

I've been covering college golf for close to half my life and to be recognized for my contributions and the things I've done -- and especially recognized by the coaches -- is something I will always treasure. And, to be the first non-coach elected for induction, has me spinning into another galaxy.

What an evening it should be at the Hall of Fame Dinner. I am honored to be joining coaches Steve Desimone (California), Kyle Blaser (Oklahoma City), Mike Carlisle (South Carolina-Aiken), Bob Alpers (St. John's, Minn.), Bobby Cornett (Texas Wesleyan), and Floyd Horgan (Centenary and Brevard Community College), in this year's induction class.

How great it will be to also share this special evening with former California State-Stanislaus coach Jim Hanny, who will receive the GCAA's Honor Award; Williams College coach Rick Pohle, recipient of the Labron Harris Sr. Award presented by E-Z Go; and the Friends of Golf (FOG), the first organization to earn the GCAA's Lifetime Achievement Award.

So be there or be square because this is going to be one magical evening and a great week.

If you are a college golf coach you should make plans to attend the upcoming convention. You owe it to your fellow coaches, to the organization that supports what you do, to yourself and even to your players and your program.

Remember, the GCAA is the leading voice for college golf coaches -- for your voice. And this year, you even have Johnny Miller tossed into the mix for a crowning touch.